Classical physics

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What "classical physics" refers to depends on the context. When discussing special relativity, it refers to the Newtonian physics which preceded relativity, i.e. the branches of physics based on principles developed before the rise of relativity and quantum mechanics. When discussing general relativity, it refers to the result of modifying Newtonian physics to incorporate special relativity. When discussing quantum mechanics, it refers to non-quantum physics, including special relativity, and general relativity. In other words, it is the physics preceding the physics of interest in one's discussion.

Contents

Overview

Scope

Among the branches of theory included in classical physics are:

Differences

In contrast to classical physics, modern physics is a slightly looser term which may refer to just quantum physics or to 20th and 21st century physics in general and so always includes quantum theory and may include relativity.

A physical system on the classical level is a physical system in which the laws of classical physics are valid. There are no restrictions on the application of classical principles, but, practically, the scale of classical physics is the level of isolated atoms and molecules on upwards, including the macroscopic and astronomical realm. Inside the atom and among atoms in a molecule, the laws of classical physics break down and generally do not provide a correct description.

Moreover, the classical theory of electromagnetic radiation is somewhat limited in its ability to provide correct descriptions, since quantum effects are observable in more everyday circumstances than quantum effects of matter. Unlike quantum physics, classical physics is generally characterized by the principle of complete determinism (although the Many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics is in a sense deterministic).

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